amy courts: en route

Grace, and Grace, and Grace
September 28, 2011, 11:42 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Maybe it’s inherent to motherhood. Maybe it’s inherent to beginning my thirtieth year, or my fourth decade of life.

But never have I experienced so much grace, and never have I needed it more.

When I’m driving down the interstate in another state (or city…or my own, for that matter…) and not at my road-worthy best, I just wave at others and say “Give me grace! Please, give me grace!”

When Elijah is having a meltdown, and I’m on the brink of my own, I just beg the Lord for grace accompanied by some mercy that I might be filled with patience I don’t have.

And when friends call or text or email with stories of new wounds and heavy burdens…oh, it’s all I can do not to fall on my knees and groan, willing the Spirit to join me.

I suspect it has something to do with the simple fact that I experienced real, true, tangible salvation this year when God brought me back from the brink of death to be Eli’s mother and Paul’s wife. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so aware of Christ’s presence in and around and for me as I have been these last five months, since He saved me.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so fully consumed by the knowledge of prayer’s power for those around me, since seeing how God interrupted so many others’ lives to plead for me and Eli. I have prayed and prayed that He would interrupt mine, that I might be part of the mystery and miracle in a similar way for someone else.

I do know I’ve never been this awe-struck by the weight and depth of the struggles we daily face, or by God’s hugeness in comparison.

And I have never been so keenly moved by the small beauties that transform…well-written songs, powerful prayers spoken by tiny lips, baby coos, and falling leaves.

And so every day, for something or someone new, I’m drawn to my heart’s knees if not my actual knees, pleading for grace, and grace, and grace in the world around me. For my friends whose marriages are deteriorating; for those who are facing injustice upon injustice; for almost-orphans and their dying mothers; for my family in Africa and Nebraska that I miss so dearly; for close ones facing the shock of aging in sudden illness. Grace and grace and grace, that I might hold tight to the life around me, grace for everything dying, grace for the eyes to see it coming alive.

Grace and grace and grace, that it might be made right, that life might bloom and I might watch it. Again and again.


In response to a response to… (On Men, Women, Romance, and Stories)
August 11, 2011, 10:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I wrote this in response to Rachel Held Eveans’ response to Donald Miller’s blogs about Great Love Stories (for men and woman). I figured I’d post it here as well. Why not? Tangents and rabbit trails are always fun.


I’m gonna go ahead and say the thing I think a lot of women (in my experience) are afraid to say:

I am a supporting character in the story. So is my husband. But in our marriage, I’m the supporting character, the Helper. He’s the leader, I’m the Helper. Which I used to think was bad or somehow inferior, until I realized the only other Person to whom that title (“Helper”) is given is the Holy Spirit. I don’t mind keeping company with the Holy Spirit, who was sent to be my Helper. It’s pretty exclusive company. And that makes for a fairly interesting story.

Whether I like it or not, I am defined by my sexuality, past, marital status, and body. …And a lot more. But those are elements I can no more abandon without abandoning my self (and becoming something altogether different) than a fish can abandon its gills and still be a fish, or a bird its wings, or a shark its dorsal fin. And I think all those definers make for a fairly interesting story.

I have cried into my pillow, waiting for someone else to give me purpose and direction in life. And when I’ve done it honestly, God has appeared more visibly and audibly – more powerfully – than ever before. I’ve learned to cry into my pillow often, because God likes when I’m weak and vulnerable, at the end of myself and finally willing to hear Him. He did it in Africa and it change my life forever. And that makes for a fairly interesting story.

I do fit into some of the predictable roles well-meaning Christians have prescribed for me as a woman, mother, wife, artist, and Believer. I’ve been pretty passive, at times, expecting and then allowing God to do things I didn’t try to do because they were beyond my comprehension, much less my action, and have seen some pretty amazing things form thereafter. What makes it interesting is the fact that those well-meaning Christians (and their counter-parts who defy those roles & prescriptions) didn’t actually expect me to do it (neither did I, for that matter), and I’ve done it much to their chagrin, because I’ve done it within – but without – their parameters. I’m an artist who would rather be a stay-at-home mom, but takes her baby on the road anyway. I’m a wife who loves being her husband’s Helper, despite that I’ve been told I should take offense at the very idea. That can be pretty interesting in conversation.

And all of that makes for a story that transcends race, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, family and creed. It makes for a story whose characters are single, married, celibate, gay, young, old, male, female, rich, poor, powerful, and weak, and of which I am only one, but a significant one within the ever-relational community. And stories about relationship are always interesting.

midnight melodies
April 12, 2011, 12:16 am
Filed under: Baby, Music, Uncategorized

i’m awake in the wee hours of the morning more often than not these days, just not usually to make up songs for my to-be-born son. but tonight, that’s why i was awake: to sing to the boy in my belly a little hope i have for him. so i thought i’d share tonight’s (this morning’s?) lyrical melodies before morning dawns and with it brings the sensibility to wait, let the song linger, decide if it’s just right, and probably not share.

because for tonight, it’s exactly the prayer i muttered for E…with a melody you might get to hear later.

forgive me if it seems cruel to pray brokenness for my son. but i believe in the power of brokenness, and even more in the power of the One who puts us back together every day.

“your little heart”

it’ll hurt, my love
it’ll hurt a lot
beware the snare
or you will be caught

and when its teeth sink in
to your fragile skin
it’ll tear you apart

and break your little heart
it’ll break your little heart

hold still, my love
hold still and wait
when the father sings
are you listening?

let the words sink in
to your fragile skin
let them tear you apart

and break your little heart
break your little heart

wisdom stings
but with it brings
the medicine for mending
wisdom burns
the things you’ve learned
and teaches you to be

awake, my love
awake and see
the father singing
over thee

Not That It Would Have Changed a Thing
March 2, 2011, 10:39 am
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Home Life, Music, Uncategorized

Ok. I’m calling in the big guns.

I just read this thing, “25 Things I wish I knew before having kids” from another mom on babycenter. And none of it looks terribly crazy. It all looks/sounds eerily familiar.

And it’s freaking me out.

According to this list, beginning in late April, I’m not going to sleep at least three years. Actually, scratch that. If I’m anything like my own mom, I’m not going to sleep for 18 years. And if my kids are anything like me, during years 13-16, I’ll sleep less than I do during their first months of life. You know, when they don’t sleep through the night, so neither do I?

My marriage is being turned on its head. My husband, whom I love and cherish and treasure more than anyone else in this universe, and I are going to have to re-learn how to be married, this time with kids. Forget about baby proofing. That’s easy. What about intimacy? What about date nights? What about sitting up til all hours and just laughing? Will I ever be not-tired enough to enjoy any of that again? How am I going to continue being a wife when I become a mother?

I am about to completely lose my former self (if I haven’t lost her already) and become someone new. Namely, a mother. Everything about me is going to shift. It’s gonna have to shift, lest I raise a son who a) hates me, and b) will desperately need years and years of expensive therapy. This is difficult for me, because I’m selfish. And I like it.

Career? What career? I’m not good at multi-tasking, and having-a-baby seems, from everything I can tell thus far, like a pretty time-consuming affair. I don’t have the first clue what to do or think about that.

According to the list, shower time will be my favorite 5 minutes of the day. Because those minutes are all mine.

According to the list, I won’t have a clean house for a year…and I shouldn’t mind. Clearly, these people don’t know me at all, or anything about my obsessive compulsion for things to be presentably clean for company. Which leads me to the next realization…

We will not have company over for years. Because I, apparently, will not be cleaning for that long.

And we chose to cloth diaper. I am tempted to reconsider the dollars we’re saving, the landfills we’re saving, and all that other nonsense, and trade all those savings in for one other salvation of utmost importance: My sanity.

Maybe, with just eight more weeks to go, I should ask for a few more weeks of bed rest?


Baby E w/ 8 Weeks Left to Bake

Endings and Beginnings, Interruptions and Delays
January 19, 2011, 10:52 am
Filed under: Baby, Faith and Faith Life, Music, Uncategorized

“There is nothing interchangeable about Christians. …You and I, whether we are men or women, have nothing to do with the choice of the gift. We have everything to do with the use of the gift.” (Elisabeth Elliot, via Ronne Sellers Rock)

This morning my friend Ronne’s blog brought to mind waves of worries that have been crashing in my mind for the last 26 weeks. Well, OK…the last 18 weeks (because I didn’t know I was pregnant until I was about 8 weeks along). Worries not about motherhood – that’s a whole other blog – but about life…and changes…about new and old adventures, and how to navigate both…worries that one will tear me from the other…just a lot of worries.

As you know, 2010 was a pretty gigantic year for me, professionally and personally. Maybe the biggest yet. In some ways, indeed many ways, I felt like it was the Step Into. Never mind that I, of all people, should know by now there is no such thing as The Big Break anymore…every step is merely on its way to the next step, no matter what. But I was ready to be gung-go. I was going to tour my heart to peaces. I was going to write til I was wrung dry and play hundreds of shows with very important people. I was going to “capitalize on the year’s experiences” by “investing in new, profitable experiences.”

And then I got pregnant.

….aaaand not on purpose.

Now, don’t read me wrong: This pregnancy…man! This pregnancy is exactly what I’d been praying for for nearly four and a half years. I prayed for “an accident.” I prayed for God’s timing, because I didn’t want our timing to bring us down if our plans were unsuccessful. I prayed for a leak, and I doubt I’ve ever been more grateful for it. Because God, in His great kindness, answered this prayer – for the first time ever – exactly as I’d prayed.

So on one hand, I know how perfectly planned our little cage fighter monkey boy is, despite that we had no part in the planning.

On the other hand, part of me is a deep well of fear. By getting pregnant, I disobeyed the explicit direction of one prominent player in the industry who, in trying to help me out, advised that I hold off on babies for at least two more years to give myself uninterrupted time to get this thing off the ground.

So now, I spend days wondering if my career is over, and how to keep it afloat. I wake up in the night wondering if, in taking some time off to have a baby, the last eight years will be forgotten and I’ll have to start over…and how will I do that? I wonder if moving to Minneapolis next Fall will help or hinder the back-to-it process. I wonder if whatever audience I’ve gathered over the years will stay with me, and patiently await something new, believing it’ll be better…or if they’ll scatter to the winds.

I wonder why God, in all His full knowledge, would choose now to interrupt this journey – at a kind of crucial moment – and set me on a new, very demanding journey.

I can’t help but worry that God is pulling me into a new adventure and closing the door on the last one, when I’d only barely gotten to taste its sweetness.

And if that’s the case…

I confess, with shame, I fear becoming small and unimportant and unknown. I fear losing whatever status I have. I fear becoming “just” a wife and a mom.

But then…I know God. I’ve witnessed too many times His impeccable Hand at work, and I believe with my whole person that, truly, “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what God has planned for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

So I know that if, indeed, this is the end of one adventure, it’s only because the new adventure is more unthinkably grand than my small mind can bear, and will demand and deserve every ounce of me.

I also know this: I have long considered my song to be my gift. But the truth is songs are merely a tool in the hands of a masterful Craftsman. They are not the gift, but the expression of it. If I have come to idolize the tool, I’ve lost my way and can make no good use of it anymore. So it’s right that it should be taken from me, even if only for a time. Perhaps that’s what’s happening. Or perhaps God is handing me a brand new set of tools with which to do totally different things, lest I forget who is the Craftsman after all.

I have no idea what lay ahead. I don’t know what my career will look like in ten months or ten years. I don’t know if it’ll even matter once this tiny human God has seen fit to grow in me is finally in my arms and on his own feet and driving cars.

But I believe God is a God of perfectly timed accidents. I believe that even if this is the end of one way, it’s the very beginning of another. And it is right. I have witnessed time and again that even on His most foolish day, He is wiser than me at my best.

And I know that He is good and worth trusting.

So whatever lay ahead…well, it will pale all in its fantastic beauty.

**Take a moment to go read the blog that inspired and encouraged me today. I’ve wasted many words here, but those words give life. Especially to those lost in wondering who they are and what use they could be to God.

on impending motherhood
January 8, 2011, 12:41 pm
Filed under: Baby, Home Life, Uncategorized

He responds to my touch. I can lay my hand over my belly, and he’ll start kicking it. Like he’s giving me a high-five. He does the same with Paul.

He dances when his daddy plays guitar…until the song lulls him to sleep.

He wiggles around, as if trying to find the most comfortable position to sit and listen, while I read to him. Right now, we’re at chapter 8 of the book of John, and judging by the words he reacts to, we’re going to have to spend some good time explaining that when he takes communion, he’s not actually eating flesh or drinking blood. No, my beloved son, Jesus did not make us a church of vampires.

Some days, he just plays all day long, and I feel the little kicks and jabs here and there and everywhere, reminding me that he’s becoming.

And it seems that he’s developing either a strong affinity toward or against (I can’t be sure) spicy foods. One bite, and he’s squirming everywhere.

I don’t know him, but I know him. I have no idea what shape his personality will take in the years to come.

I don’t know if he’ll love math and science (What!? Who’s child can this possibly be!?! The son of two musicians is an astrophysicist!?), or if he’ll write books or songs or nothing at all.

I don’t know if he’ll be a desk philosopher or a hands-on build-it man.

Maybe he’ll love the theater like his father, or being the class clown (in a good way) like his big brother Matt, or maybe he’ll be an imaginative over-achiever who exaggerates everything like his mother (please, God, not that!).

I don’t know any of this, and it sometimes terrifies me.

But there’s one thing I know, and this is a truth I’ve never experienced more powerfully or profoundly until now: No matter what he is, who he is, where he goes, or what he does, I long and ache for him to know and be transformed by the love of Jesus.

I want him to know in his bones that he was created to see and know and love his Maker, all because his Maker sees and knows and loves him infinitely.

I’m equal parts excited and terrified of this great task of teaching him these things without forcing him to see what he’s not ready to see. What is this profound calling, to shepherd a child, and how will I ever be equipped to do it well? Where do I even begin!?

At 24 weeks pregnant, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do or give for this little boy who isn’t even here yet. I can only imagine the lengths to which I’ll stride or the heights to which I’ll leap or the depths to which I’ll willingly plunge when he’s in my arms, his little fingers wrapping around mine.

And if I, a simple, sinful human can love him so deeply already…

I simply cannot begin to fathom the love God has for him.

And I am altogether stunned to consider how deep is the Father’s love for me in giving me this unspeakable gift of bringing a person into the world.

Oh, that I won’t do him wrong.

The Tie that Binds
June 13, 2010, 9:36 am
Filed under: Culture, Faith and Faith Life, Uncategorized

At least once each week – sometimes more, depending on the news – we receive an updated prayer list from our church family at The Village Chapel.

Sometimes, it’s a list chock full of praises and gratitude to God and one another for prayers answered. Recently, we rejoiced together for a brother who, over the course of 18 months of prayer, fighting, and chemo treatments, was pronounced clean and clear of his cancer.

And yet, it was coupled with the darker news this week about a sister who, after being hospitalized in the ICU for pneumonia gone wild, was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. Her every breath is filled with pain…ours are filled with prayer. For comfort, peace, some kind of answer to the overarching “Why?” Why her? Why now? Why couldn’t it have been found sooner?

But here’s the thing: The church we call home is home to about 1500 people divided among four services. It’s not huge or mega…but it’s big. Much of the time, I read the prayer list and have to do some research in the church face book to find out who I’m praying for.

And yet, big as we are, we still function like a tight-nit family. We pray for one another…not just in passing when we receive the updates, or in depth in our personal daily lives. But every Sunday morning in service as well. We pray together. Sometimes, we take a good long while to pray for each other. Sometimes, our time spent in prayer exceeds our time spent in Scripture.

It’s good. It’s blessed. Because it’s the thread – this commitment to actively grieving together and rejoicing together – that binds the 9 o’clockers to the 11 o’clockers to the 6 o’clockers to the Saturday nighters. And it’s this bond that assures us that whether or not our names are known or our faces recognized, we have a rather large family praying for us when we need it. It assures us all that even if we’re not known intimately, we’re loved deeply…and we belong.

It’s the bond that creates Home.